It’s 2008 and a picture perfect evening in Polzeath, Cornwall. I’m 18, I’ve just finished school and staying above the Oyster Catcher Pub with four girlfriends; yup, we think we’re the shit.
Cracking open our discounted wine on our first night, we start making sausages on our tiny hob in our apartment which over looks the beer garden. The pub starts to fill. And fill. Far too busy people watching, we forget all about supper…. until the pub’s fire alarm goes off and the entire pub is evacuated due to our sausages burning to a crisp.
My last foodie memory of Cornwall was of toe-curling embarrassment and belly-aching stifled giggles. But last weekend, I went back to Cornwall for a wind swept weekend and now all I can think of is the amazing food, notably the fish, that Cornwall has to offer. We feasted on spankingly fresh fish and the creamiest of ice creams – and not a burnt sausage nor the angry glare of a packed pub in site.
I would jump in the car and embrace the 5 hour journey down to Cornwall, just for another meal at ‘Prawns on the Lawn’. A fishmongers as well as a restaurant, with a menu that focuses solely on fish, this place is the stuff of dreams and definitely worth booking as soon as you book a trip to Padstow.
We went one wild and windy Saturday evening and sat up at the candle lit bar which I’d recommend- if you sit on the tables then you sit virtually on your neighbour’s lap which I hate.
The best way to contemplate the menu is with a glass of wine and a plate of oysters perched in front of you.
Choose from raw oysters or fried which are served with the most outrageously good garlic creme fraiche. Even if you don’t like the idea of a slimy raw fish going down your mouth at rapid speed, I’d order the fried version as these oysters are out of this world.
The menu is right up my street, being composed of lots of little dishes for you to share – ideal as it means you get to try more, all in the guise of sharing is caring. We started with the seared tuna tartare which can only be described as velvety and smooth- in a good way!
Unbelievably fresh with the most interesting flavor coming through from the marinade of chilli, spring onion, soy and miring. One of the things I liked best about all of the dishes from ‘Prawn On the Lawn,’ was that the sauce/marinade was only there to compliment the fish and turn the dish into something exquisite; often I find sauces, although meant to be just an aid to the dish, completely drown out the fish and often trigger digestive issues.
The scallops with cashews were beautifully presented, plump and juicy, although three scallops between two is always awkward especially when they tasted so damn good – although I would say that the cashews were crushed too small, meaning that they were impossible to scoop off the scallop shells in a vaguely restrained way.
The bream dish stole the show. Buried under that pile of coriander leaves is the freshest fish, that was seasoned with the most incredible marinade – a dish made for eating slowly and savoring each bite. We finished the dish and eagerly asked if Prawns on the Lawn had a cook book, hoping that the secrets to this dish would be revealed; sadly not, but a subsequent google search produced this recipe…..which we tried and gave it the thumbs up! (Just substitute bream for sea bass and with hindsight I would use fillets instead of the whole bream as it makes the cooking time more predictable.)
If crab is on the menu then it’s a safe bet that I will be ordering it. With the option of brown or white crab served hot or cold, I was probably the most annoying customer, constantly changing my mind but eventually settled for the brown meat, served hot. We hadn’t quite realised that it would be a whole crab and despite declaring we wouldn’t be able to eat the whole dish, it seemed to disappear rather quickly…. It was a good dish but compared to the rest of the dishes, it wasn’t particularly memorable and trying to get the meat out was a bit of a messy palova.